Lynden Christian’s pursuit of a third straight state title came up short Saturday night as the Lyncs fell to a Lakeside (Nine Mile Falls) team they’ve never beaten in the postseason, 25-17, 26-24, 17-25, 26-24 in the class 1A state tournament in the SunDome.
The Lyncs and Eagles have played four times at state -- but hadn’t played since 2002. Lakeside has won all four matches.
Lynden Christian struggled with Lakeside’s powerful front line in the first two games and the Lyncs dropped both. But after being challenged by coach Kim Grycel in the break before the third game, the Lyncs came to life.
“I said you can either roll over and let them have a 3-0 win or you can fight back and try to defend your title we did. We made a valiant effort.”
The Lyncs rally was impacted severely when their front line stud Hannah Rusnick injured her right ankle in the third game. The Lyncs were leading at the time and forced a fourth game before falling.
“Hannah has played every match since we got her, she’s our go to and the conference player of the year,” a crestfallen Grycel said afterwards. “That was hard but I was really proud of the girls for the way they responded to get that third game and almost get the fourth game without Hannah.”
Lynden Christian raced to a 20-7 lead in the third game before Rusnak was injured. Lakeside chipped back to get to within seven points at 24-17 before the Lyncs forced a fourth game.
With Lakeside’s Joelle Mahowald and Kelley Morrison creating havoc at the net the Lyncs struggled.
“We talked about how to defend them but we didn’t execute it very well,” Grycel said. “They hit the ball really well, especially in the first two games.”
Lakeside established early control in the title match, taking leads of 7-2 and 15-4 in the first game. The Lyncs pulled a bit closer -- cutting it to 23-17 before Lakeside closed it out, 25-17.
The second game was back and forth. Lakeside lead 16-10 but the Lyncs rallied to get the lead at 23-22 before falling 26-2.
The Lyncs dispatched Granger in the semifinals about as quickly as one could expect.
Taking full advantage of a smaller exam with no experience on the big stage, 25-11, 25-10, 25-19.
“They’re scrappy and they kept the ball alive and they made us hit it three times to get a kill,” Lyncs coach Kim Grycel said. “They made us work for it. I thought they were on fire yesterday and they came back down a little bit today.”
Grycel singled out the effort of Avery Dykstra, who the coach said struggled in the quarterfinal match Friday night.
“She made very few errors today. She did a nice job.”
Grycel also noted that liberal Emmalee Bailey played “lights out.” Bailey recorded 20 digs.
Hannah Rusnak had 13 kills to lead the Lyncs offense.